Stokes and England ‘will benefit’ if a coach is not appointed before first Test

Michael Atherton believes England could struggle to appoint a new head coach before the first Test of the summer, giving new captain Ben Stokes an opportunity to stamp his authority on the team.

England sacked former coach Chris Silverwood back in February following their humiliating 4-0 defeat by Australia in the Ashes. New Managing Director of Men's Cricket Rob Key is looking to split the role, with England advertising for separate red and white ball coaches.

The advertisement states the application process will end on May 6, with first stage interviews taking place on May 9 and 10. That leaves the ECB and Key with less than a month to ensure that a new head coach is appointed before the first Test against New Zealand, which is due to start on June 2 at Lord's.

Speaking last week, Key said: "I'm optimistic – although it's not a sure thing – that we'll have a coach in place for that first Test. I'm optimistic there's some good names coming in from English cricket and from world cricket."

However, Atherton believes the "tight" timeframe will make it difficult for England to finalise an appointment in time. Despite this, he believes the lack of a permanent head coach could actually benefit England and their new skipper.

He told Sky Sports News: "Ben Stokes will be his own man; he has got a chance to shape that team now and take it in a different direction. There may not be a coach in place in time.

"These things go through a process; I think May 6 is when job applications close and June 2 is the first Test match. That's quite tight.

"That's not a bad thing in my view. I don't think since Sir Andrew Strauss that an England captain has really grabbed hold of a dressing room.

"If there is no coach in there, it will be a chance for Ben to absolutely grab hold of it, mould the team and say 'this is the way we're going to run things.' When Farbrace was interim coach before Bayliss came in, that was actually when Stokes came back into the side, so it's not a disaster if a coach is not in place by June 2."

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